European Animals Incite Ecological Changes in the New World

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European Animals Incite Ecological Changes in the New World

When Columbus and the first landed in the Americas, he was confronted with a totally new world. This was not just new in the sense of people and land, but also in an ecological one as well. Columbus had stumbled across a land that, although already populated by people, was basically untouched. The people who lived in these new lands were completely in sync with nature. They valued the land for what it was worth and as such, they preserved it.

Then came the waves of Europeans, and as we all know, things changed. Not only were the lives of the Amerindians drastically changed, but also the ecology of the Americas was completely and permanently altered. Although the Europeans helped in these changes to the ecosystem, their part was minor when compared to the true criminals: the European animals. It was the European animals that were introduced into the New World that had the most destructive effects on their new environment and forever altered the ecology of the Americas.

Before taking a look into the effects the European animals had on the environment, we must first view the way things were prior to their introduction. During the time which pre-dated the arrival of the Europeans, the Americas were basically untouched. The land was populated with not just Indians, but also vast numbers of plants and animals. The land provided almost all of the needs of the Indians and in return, the Indians took care of the land.

The Amerindians used animals sparingly in work. The domesticated animals which they had included: dogs, guinea pigs, and various types of fowl (Crosby, 74). They had no types of ridden animals and they chose to use themselves as beasts of burden. Thi...

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...lear huge tracts of land. They were able to outcompete their American counterparts and the Amerindians by taking food from them and out-breeding them thus taking up more space. This caused not just destruction to the land, but also a decline and in some cases, extinction in the native plant and animal species. These animals not only had a destructive effect on their new environments, but also permanently altered the ecology of the Americas thus forever marking their spot in history.

Works Cited

Crosby, Alfred W. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Company, 1972.

Crosby, Alfred W. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Roberts, Neil. The Holocene: An Environmental History. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1989.
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